Sunday, 30 September 2012
“…job hopping is the NEW BLACK…I think employers see a downside if candidates stay at a company for longer than 10 years. They ask the obvious: Why? Weren’t they ambitious enough to look for other opportunities? Did they just settle in and get comfortable without pushing themselves? So beware, candidates, if you are at your job longer than 10 years. You may have thought it was a sign of loyalty, but it may be perceived as a career liability.”
Consider the advantages of a long term partnership with the company you join
Say what?? With all due respect, Jeanne, I 100% disagree. But Jeanne’s opinion carries statistical strength: Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, released Sept. 18, says that as of January 2012, the median time that wage and salary workers had been with their current employers was just 4.6 years. This is a terrible trend.
• Your job is too hard. Being averse to any real challenge is not a quality many employers will respect or admire. If you’re job is too hard, do what you need to do to get up to speed. Ask for more training or take a class to brush up on your skills. Don’t demote yourself or bow out.
• You’re bored. While boredom (and lack of a challenge) can be absolutely toxic to your professional development, it is not an excuse to move on. At least not until you’ve explored other options within your company. There’s probably a lot more you could be doing if you just asked.
• You can’t get along with people. It’s one thing if the corporate culture just isn’t the right fit, but if you’re moving from job to job because you’ve fallen out with your co-workers or your boss, it might be time to do some soul searching. Think about it: the only common denominator in the equation is you. So instead of moving on every time you have a tiff, think about what you might have done to provoke it.
• You’re jumping for money alone. Jumping from job to job for the sole purpose of monetary gain is a big mistake. If increasing your salary is your only incentive for job-hopping, you’ll end up unsatisfied in the long term.
I maintain that the commonly-held idea the only way to “get ahead” is to hop jobs is entirely false.
As a case in point, the company I helped save from closure in 2004 and now lead (Fishbowl) has grown from 6 to 100 employees in the past 8 years, and our turnover is negligible (under 2%). I am here for life. As I receive calls from Venture Capitalists I tell them “our exit strategy is death, so we may not fit your model.” Our full leadership team and the vast majority of our employees consider themselves “lifers” as well.
Yes, as a business owner I have a lot of incentive to keep our talented people around. But as an employee, I believe you can progress much better, both financially and in skills, by staying in one place instead of jumping around. The whole idea and philosophy of the “perfect job” could be blinding you from the even bigger opportunity to magnify the position you already have.
So with apologies to Jeanne and to everyone who’s supported the premise she offers, I present a new list – The Top 10 Good Reasons to Stay at a Company for 10 or More Years. Here goes:
1. Seniority – If you stay at one company for the long haul, you’ll be more likely to rise in seniority, rather than having to scratch and fight to establish a stronger role at each new company as you go.
2. Leadership Opportunities – With seniority comes the chance to lead others and mentor newcomers through the transition to their new jobs. Your success increases your abilities—builds a loyal following in your team members—and makes you a leader who is naturally upheld by your team, rather than working to defend the authority you’ve been given in a new firm by decree.
3. Stability – If you’re constantly worrying about where you’ll be in the next year, it’s difficult to make long-term plans. A little stability in your career and workplace can help you cope more effectively with the stresses that are sure to occur within the rest of your life.
4. Homeownership and retirement funds –Job hoppers pay a high price in home equity and retirement accounts. Every job change that requires a move will also enact a high transaction cost to change homes, which is never ideal outside of chosen opportunities to move to a more suitable home. Stability is also appealing to banks, who often look more favorably on prospective borrowers who’ve held consistent jobs for a minimum of two years, and preferably more. Vesting in 401K and stock option programs is generally badly affected by hops. So while employees think they may be gaining an advantage by jumping to a new company to get a sign-on bonus or raise, in the long term, employees who maximize vesting schedules and maintain their retirement accounts will likely excel.
5. Increased Benefits – Many companies increase employees’ paid time off if they stay at a job for a certain number of years. As I noted in 4, you also increase your accounts and your vesting of benefits such as 401K and stock options by staying put and remaining stable. You can spend more time with your family and can achieve lifestyle goals with the extra time off and the extra stock and retirement savings long-term employment affords.
6. Self-Improvement – If you allow other people to get to know you over a long course of time, you’ll grow to trust their advice, and they’ll be able to point out the blind spots you may have otherwise never addressed. Furthermore, you’ll recognize and resolve your own weaknesses far more effectively if you stay put and address what bothers you rather than jumping ship and blaming your discontent on your former co-workers and boss.
7. Dependability – If you are able to stay at one place for 10 years, it shows that you are able to do a lot of things right. People will respect and trust you for the dependability you show.
8. Flexibility – Most people who stay at a company for a decade or more progress through multiple increasingly challenging roles while they’re there. They typically try their hands at a variety of roles to help determine what they’re most passionate about. The difference between moving within a company and moving between companies is that you retain your status and benefits, but you’re also free to experiment and try some new things.
9. Perseverance – It’s easy to quit over perceived unfairness or serious challenges. But it shows much stronger character to persevere, to find and enact solutions to problems, repair damage, and take an active role in turning a situation around. (However, if you work in a genuinely toxic corporate environment, you should absolutely take your leave, as quickly as possible, and move on.)
10. A Say in the Company’s Future – You can have a positive influence on your company’s direction over the years, and can do so from a position of experience and knowledge, if you’re willing to stick with the company through good times and bad.
This is true for our company, and is especially true for the opportunity we’re beginning right now. Our team had a very direct role in achieving a full buy-back from the former investor. We’re in the process this week of granting stock options to nearly half of our employees, and many more will receive shares within the coming six months. Now the employees and management own the company. Stock option ownership is based on behaviors that align with our 7 Non Negotiables, which you’ve heard me mention before.
Likewise, our employees are earning the right to participate in the company’s future growth and to help direct the company’s current and future product and technology goals. Our compensation plans have every person in the company, at every level, working in a base plus commission arrangement. That arrangment is vital to them and has also been vital to our success, I believe, in achieving consistent year over year growth of approximately 60% since 2007. It causes everyone in the company to be thinking in ways that create revenue, and it requires that we all remain frugal. In essence, the employees are able to engage as entrepreneurs at every level of the company, without the risks or the drawbacks of founding a startup firm on their own.
Have I convinced you? Yes, changing jobs may be “the new black” for the majority of U.S. workers, but we would do well to learn from our European and international counterparts on this front. Today, I challenge you to consider the possibilities of participating in the long-term growth of a great company, and to also consider the advantage of a long-term partnership within the company you help to create.
Perhaps it’s time to turn your career and company into a devoted and prosperous marriage, instead of a series of dates.